Fitness Devices “Wearables” Study

Inside Wearables

How the Science of Behavior Change Offers the Secret to Long-Term Engagement….

Wearable devices are finally achieving mass market penetration in the United States. Skeptics and proponents of the wearables market alike recognize the significant technological innovations taking place and the opportunities for profits. Successful ventures in this space will enable new revenue streams through services and/or hardware or increase bottom line revenues by improving healthcare outcomes and reducing costs. For companies across the value chain, the stakes are high. In the midst of this frenzy of anticipation, the dirty secret of wearables remains: most of these devices fail to drive long-term sustained engagement for a majority of users.

“Inside Wearables” addresses critical strategic issues in wearable devices and services and the twelve factors that are significant contributors to sustained engagement and long-term success in this highly competitive space.


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HHS Secretary Sebelius Resigns Following Obamacare Rollout

Sebelius, 65, gave no hint of her imminent departure as she testified Thursday before a Senate panel, announcing that enrollment in Obamacare exchanges had surpassed 7.5 million — a figure that easily beat White House expectations. Still, the strong finish didn’t eclipse a start that Sebelius herself called a “debacle” when melted down on Oct. 1.

Full Story Here:


CMS – Report to Congress on impact of premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance

Report to Congress on the impact on premiums for individuals and families with employer-sponsored health insurance from the guaranteed issue, guaranteed renewal, and fair health insurance premiums provisions of the Affordable Care Act

Due to strict Obamacare regulations children are being denied treatment

In Washington State, sick children are being denied necessary specialty care because of Obamacare.

Hospital administrators predicted this would happen, but according to KING-TV, it’s even worse than expected:
“Patients are being denied speciality treatment at the hospital by insurance providers on the Washington health benefits exchange. Children’s filed requests on behalf of 125 of their patients. Of those, they say they got only 20 responses, eight of which were denials. Dr. Sandy Melzer says all this comes after reassurances of certain unique speciality cases would still be covered”

Dr. Sandy Melzer says, “Well, some of the patients who were denoted are ones who clearly would fail into that unique category. A two-year old with a new significant neck mass that was being evaluated for infection or malignancy, an older child with a chronic severe medical condition requiring multidisciplinary care here, a baby that had a skull abnormality…”

The hospital treated the children, but expecting them to do so indefinitely is unsustainable. Could it be any more clear that ObamaCare still isn’t ready

Obamacare Replacement Proposal – CARE

The Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment Act, or CARE for short, is being floated by Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Tom Coburn, R-Okla.


Story Here:


Essential Health Benefits (EHB) – Coverage

All new EHB health plans cover:

  •  Preventive care and screenings at 100 percent when you use a network provider, including annual checkups and shots
  •  Doctor and specialist visits – with no referral needed
  • Wide range of prescription medicines
  • Emergency services and hospital stays
  • Maternity care for mothers-to-be and routine nursery care for newborns
  • Preventive and wellness services for children
  • Dental and vision services for covered members under 19
  • Care and services, including certain devices, to help recover from an injury or illness (rehabilitative services)
  • Treatment for behavioral and mental health conditions

Plus, all the copays you pay throughout the year for care and services count toward your plan’s out-of-pocket maximum. And there are no annual or lifetime dollar limits for essential, covered care.

Bad exchange decisions could cost consumers billions

One looming problem for public exchange enrollment under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act could be a (very) costly one to consumers.

A study from the Columbia School of Business found that more than 80 percent of consumers unknowingly will choose a higher cost health care plan than they need.

The total bill for these mistakes? $9 billion.

“Consumers’ failure to identify the most appropriate plan has considerable consequences on both their pocketbooks as well as the cost of the overall system,” said Eric Johnson, co-author of the report and co-director of Columbia Business School’s Center for Decision Sciences.

“If consumers can’t identify the most cost-efficient plan for their needs, the exchanges will fail to produce competitive pressures on health care providers and bring down costs across the board, one of the main advantages of relying upon choice and markets,” Johnson said.

Johnson has advised several state health exchange systems on their   designs and structure.

To get the estimate, researchers from the school used simulated exchanges modeled on the design of the actual exchanges.

Researchers found the average consumer stands to lose on average $611 — roughly half a week’s salary for a family making $42,000 per year — by failing to choose the most cost-effective option for their needs.

And, because the federal government will subsidize many policies, American taxpayers could pay an additional $9 billion for consumers’ mistakes in choosing more costly plans.

But Johnson and his colleagues identified several mechanisms that significantly improved outcomes for the consumer, they said. And it’s a two-way street as both consumers and exchange designers could improve the exchange experience.

They suggested consumers “estimate first; peruse the plans second;” educate themselves about the basics of health insurance and have a calculator on hand.

As for the exchanges, researchers suggested exchanges limit the number of choices in health care plans to avoid consumer confusion; include tutorial links and pop-ups that explain basic health insurance terms; and include online tools for the consumer including smart defaults, and cost calculators.



October 1, 2013

Story Here:

House passes bill to delay subsidies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House passed a bill Thursday to ban new subsidies to help people buy health insurance until the Obama administration enacts a new verification system to ensure benefits go only to those who are eligible.

Democrats say the bill, which has no chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate, would unnecessarily delay subsidies slated to start next year. The White House has threatened a veto.

Thursday’s vote was the 41st by House Republicans to repeal, de-fund or change the health care law since it was passed in 2010 without a single Republican vote. A few changes have been enacted, but the effort has largely been unsuccessful.

The 235-191 vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

This week, House Republican leaders delayed voting on a bill to fund the government beyond the end of the month after some GOP lawmakers complained the measure didn’t adequately withhold funding for the health care law. If the impasse persists, it could result in a partial government shutdown at the end of the month.

“Delay, de-fund, repeal, replace. That is exactly what we want to do, because this law has become so amazingly unpopular with the American people,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

Under the law, many low- and middle-income families that don’t get health insurance through work will be eligible for subsidies to help buy insurance through state-based exchanges. Eligibility is based on income.

Republicans say there aren’t enough safeguards to prevent fraud. They say federal regulations issued over the summer would enable people to get subsidies without adequately verifying their income. The bill would delay the subsidies until the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services certifies that they will only go to people who are eligible.

“This bill would protect American taxpayers from the staggering amount of fraud and abuse in Obamacare exchanges,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. the main sponsor of the bill.

Under the law, people applying for subsidies will be asked to estimate their family incomes for 2014. Open enrollment starts next month.

Income estimates will be checked against tax and Social Security records, according to the Obama administration. If there are significant discrepancies, there will be additional checks using information from a credit rating agency. If taxpayers still get more subsidies than they are entitled to, they may have to repay part or all of them when they file their federal tax returns the following year.

Democrats note that the subsidies will be paid directly to insurance companies, making it even more difficult for people to profit from fraud. Taxpayers will receive benefits through reduced premiums.

“Your bill will do nothing but prevent millions of hard-working American families from gaining affordable health care coverage,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J.


September 12, 2013

Kroger unit cuts all spouses out of its health plan

It started with 11,200 Kroger workers in Indiana. But will a new labor agreement that axes health coverage for employees spouses eventually spread throughout the rest of Kroger’s 343,000-person workforce?

Kroger is the nation’s largest grocery store chain, ranked #23 on the Fortune 500 list with nearly $100 billion in revenue. But retail margins are historically thin, and citing belt-tightening measures, Kroger took a whack at its health coverage package at its Central Division in Indianapolis.

What emerged from contract negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 700 was a new deal for workers there. The company said it was a better deal — pension fund pump-ups, health benefits for part-time workers who work as few as 20 hours a week, pay hikes.

But gone is coverage for employee spouses. To soften the blow,  Kroger will cut each affected employee a check for $1,000. One angry Indianapolis worker told Indiana Public Media the new deal was a very bad deal for he and his wife, a Kroger retiree with ovarian and colon cancer who now would lose her insurance coverage.

“All the time we were working, we never used the insurance at all,” he said. “My wife came down with ovarian cancer and had colon cancer at the same time. We’ve dealt with that since October of last year. But now that we really need it, Kroger takes it off the table, we no longer have it.”

Kroger, at least at one facility so far, joins UPS and other employers in bumping spouses off their benefits plans.

The difference is that the Kroger unit won’t cover any spouses, while UPS is just knocking off spouses who work elsewhere and are offered health coverage through their employer.

Kroger took a different tack from UPS ideologically. UPS blamed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for its decision. Kroger spokesman John Elliott said the reason his company took this path was the constant increase in health care costs.

“There is a lot of comment about the Affordable Care Act and so on and those mandates are something that we have to factor into those discussion, but frankly, healthcare costs were going up dramatically with or without the Affordable Care Act. It just adds some specific requirements that we have to fund to deal with,” Elliott told Indiana Public Media.

The company was careful to point out  the limits of the agreement, which apparently set off alarm bells in Cincinnati, where the grocer is based.

Kroger corporate spokesman Keith Dailey told the Cincinnati Business Courier that the union agreement applied to just 15 percent of its workers in the Central Division, and that the rest of the Kroger workforce wasn’t covered by the new contract.